While ISPs and copyright owners in the US kick off efforts to deal with pirates using a "graduated response," France has been using a similar system for more than a year — and according to data released by the French government, people receiving copyright notices have reflected a "shared tendency" to stop illegal downloading. The law in France, known as HADOPI, is a "three strikes" program that attempts to educate users about copyright before suspending their internet access. It's a controversial method of combating piracy that critics have warned could interfere with due process of law, but is it working?
Since the program began, HADOPI has discovered three million IP addresses that have allegedly been involved with illegal sharing. The report on HADOPI's progress indicates that 95 percent of people who have received a first-time notice of illegal sharing "do not give rise to the need for a second notice," that 92 percent of people who received a second notice cease illegal sharing, and that 98 percent of people who receive a third notice "show the same trend." The data is taken from the French Rights Protection Commission, and includes 755,015 records of subscribers who received at least one notice between October 2010 and December 2011. Still, the question remains: has HADOPI been effective at curbing actual piracy and promoting sales?
Despite the suggestive data, there's no guarantee that HADOPI is the cause behind file sharing trends in France
One study suggests that piracy may be on the decline in France, and credits HADOPI with the shift. In a March, 2012 paper from Wellesley College and Carnegie Mellon University investigating the effects of graduated response in France, researchers say that "our results suggest that increased consumer awareness of HADOPI caused iTunes song and album sales to increase by 22.5-percent and 25-percent respectively." The study says that the changes were similar for each of the four major music labels, and that the sales increase occurred in genres like rap and hip-hop that "prior to HADOPI, experienced high piracy levels." And the French government's recent report on the law cites a number of statistics, like a reported 43 percent drop in illegal sharing on P2P networks in 2011 from Peer Media Technologies, supporting the theory that it has had a measurable impact on piracy.
Despite the suggestive data, there's no guarantee that HADOPI is the cause behind file sharing trends in France, and the law's effectiveness at eliciting a response from internet users is of course no vote on the ethical nature of the new copyright regime. It's also important to note that graduated response in the United States — though similar to HADOPI in structure — is likely to be enforced very differently.